The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has joined with the city of San Diego and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in litigation against developer Sunroad Centrum. The developer has continued construction of a 180-foot-tall building less than one mile from Montgomery Field in San Diego despite federal and city rulings against it.
"The FAA determined that the building is a hazard to air navigation," said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports. "Since Sunroad Centrum has ignored the FAA's determination and the city's stop-work order, AOPA saw no choice but to join in the lawsuit to protect the airport."
Caltrans is responsible for enforcing state aeronautical regulations, while the FAA is responsible for federal regulations and assuring compliance with grant assurances obligating San Diego to protect the airport.
AOPA entered the litigation, as a real party of beneficial interest, on behalf of its 50,000 members in California. AOPA is a nationwide association with a long history of successfully defending general aviation airports - a vital component of the country's air transportation system. The association brings the federal perspective on incompatible land use to the court, while the city's actions target enforcing building permit rules and ordinances.
The building, at 180 feet high, would be two stories too tall. It negatively impacts instrument approaches to Montgomery Field and poses a threat to pilots flying in the vicinity. In addition, the developer is planning two other buildings that are proposed to be even taller than the current one.
The city of San Diego issued a stop-work order to prevent Sunroad Centrum from building the top two stories. However, the company is refusing to abide by the order, and construction is ongoing. AOPA believes the only way to prevent the building from becoming a hazard to pilots is to have the top two floors removed.
"The building, as proposed, violates federal regulations as well as city and state codes," said Dunn. "It violates compatible land-use agreements the city made when accepting money from the FAA for the airport. This is only the first of three buildings planned in this complex - the other two are even taller and pose an even greater risk to the airport and occupants of the buildings."
Airport encroachment and incompatible land-use issues nationwide continue to be top threats to general aviation airports. Airport issues are a top priority for AOPA and its membership.
The nearly 410,000 members of AOPA, 50,000 of whom live in California, make up the world's largest civil aviation association. AOPA is committed to ensuring the continued viability, growth, and development of aviation and airports in the United States. These airports are a vital and critical component of a national transportation system.
January 10, 2007